While we are still working to finalize a state budget, news flashes and rumors race across the Internet from various groups and the media, offering instant analysis of the talks – and frequent indictment of those who have long supported our local schools.
I hope you’re not believing everything you read in the press, or the breathless talking points being e-mailed by every group with a mailing list.
News stories focused on Ebola have been constant over the past few weeks and months, and for good reason. Now that the virus has come to New York it is crucial that we take steps to contain the virus and ensure that strong protocols are in place to treat any infected individuals. Several training events and other forums have been held in recent weeks to ready our health care workers, including a Senate Health Committee roundtable with health and security officials from the public and private sectors taking part in the discussion.
As the new year approaches many may be thinking about making life changes. One major step you can take is to start your own business. Small businesses comprise 98 percent of all businesses in the state and employ more than half of New York’s private sector workforce. New ventures can be seen popping up on our Main Streets every day. Certainly, there are many more potential entrepreneurs waiting in the wings, ready to take a dream and turn it into a reality.
The holiday shopping season is upon us and consumers are being hit from all sides with a seemingly endless barrage of commercials and promotions as stores try to drum up business. While there are a number of factors shoppers use to evaluate potential purchases, one that should be kept in mind is where products are made.
Shopping our local main streets is one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit and at the same time help spark the local economy. You can really add to the holiday cheer by making sure purchases include a “Made in U.S.A.” label. In fact, December is National Made in America Month.
With Election Day now behind us and the political campaigns ended, it is time to get back to the people’s business. Certainly, there is a great deal to be done.
New York State’s fiscal health must be considered a top priority. While this is not a new revelation, it was reinforced by the latest spending and revenue report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. According to the comptroller’s report, revenue for fiscal year 2010-2011 will be $943 million lower than expected and spending will be $288 million higher. Simply put, the state budget doesn’t add up.
On Veterans Day, Americans should pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by our veterans. Whether combat veterans or Cold War veterans, all who served need to be given proper praise for a job well done. Our veterans have faced hardships that a non-veteran could never fully understand. Some have faced death in defending our nation’s freedom. Veterans possess the core American values of loyalty, duty, respect, honor, selfless service, personal courage and integrity.
Dead last. Number 50 out of 50. That’s where New York placed in the recently released ranking of state business climates by the non-partisan Tax Foundation. The embarrassing showing is yet another example why the economy must be job one in Albany.
The Tax Foundation’s 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI) is a clear illustration of just how low New York has sunk when it comes to attracting new businesses and assisting those that already exist. Cleary, those running the ship in Albany have steered far off course and run aground.
As local governments and school districts set to work preparing budgets for the next fiscal year, one term the public will hear quite a bit is “unfunded mandates.” While you won’t find the phrase in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition really is quite simple. Basically, an unfunded mandate is a requirement passed down from a higher authority with no money to pay for its implementation.
In many cases, such mandates come straight from Washington D.C.; other times Albany is the culprit. While many may have respectable intentions, such as educating our children or providing public services, the result is that local governments are stuck with the cost of enacting the requirements. Ultimately that cost is passed on to taxpayers.
The Internet is a revolutionary, world-changing innovation. While it continues to enrich our lives in new and profound manners on a daily basis, there is a dark side that everyone should keep in mind.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security. The goal – encourage people to protect their computers and our nation’s critical cyber infrastructure.
Truck drivers. We see them every day on the highway, and while we have a basic understanding of what they do, we don’t always realize the rigors and risks of the essential job they perform. The vast majority put in long hours away from home so they can earn a living wage and support their families. Along with the dangers one would expect that come with the job of driving an eighteen wheeler – road hazards, equipment malfunctions and driver error – there are other, more sinister threats.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an ideal time to remind women to get mammograms. It is also a perfect time to highlight a valuable resource available in New York – the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, aside from skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States this year. An estimated 39,840 women are expected to die from the disease in 2010 alone. Today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.
As school property tax bills arrive in mailboxes across upstate New York the volume of phone calls, e-mails and letters from concerned homeowners to my office rises daily. The message from many is simple: “I don’t know how I am going to pay this bill.”
Several dynamics are factoring in this year, creating some of the highest tax bills in our state’s history.
Unemployment in New York State is hovering at just over 8 percent according to recently released figures from the State Labor Department. While we are doing somewhat better than the nation as a whole (9.6 percent unemployment rate for the month of August) it is not nearly good enough.
I have been fighting hard for necessary job creation tools that will help jumpstart our upstate economy and put New Yorkers back to work. Recently, the Business Council of New York State recognized me for my record of standing up for measures that will help create jobs while consistently voting against higher taxes and out of control state spending.
The Business Council’s Voters' Guide is based on sponsorship and floor votes on various economic bills, including:
As children head back to school, there is no shortage of interests competing for their time. New friends, homework, sports and other extracurricular activities all have their place and each helps play a part in developing a well-rounded, successful child. One pursuit that should also be added to the list is a trip to the local library.
September is Library Card Sign-up Month, a time to make sure that all children have the smartest card of all – a library card. Observed since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month is a time when the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply of all.
Quality child care can assist parents in building their children’s self esteem, teach them how to get along with others and encourage them to explore the world around them. Quality programs also provide a warm, nurturing environment where children feel secure and comfortable. Some excellent programs have only a few children and are run from the provider’s home. Other fine programs have many children and are located in large centers. Finding the right program for you and your child may be hard work, but it’s worth the effort.
Each and every day thousands of law enforcement and emergency workers risk their lives to protect the citizens of New York. Throughout my time in the state senate, I have proudly partnered with these brave, caring men and women on a number of initiatives to assist them in performing their critical duties.
As young people consider their futures, some may want to think about working for New York State in various positions of law enforcement and correctional services.
The state periodically has openings in law enforcement (state police, park police, university police, environmental conservation and corrections). New York's prisons, which range from minimum to maximum security, need reliable, qualified individuals to serve as corrections officers. Crime is generally on the decrease in our state, and we can credit the legislature for tough policies and new laws that have reduced our crime rate. But we will always have the need to incarcerate those who violate our laws, and we will need people to operate our prisons.
As the summer months begin to fade away and the back to school season approaches, many children will be ramping up their level of physical activity. Some may be returning to sports or joining an athletic team for the first time while others may be looking forward to physical education class or simply rejoining their friends on the school playground. No matter how intense the participation, as youngsters get back into the swing of things, it is important to watch for signs for the chronic condition of asthma.
Finally, after long last, a state budget has received approval in Albany. The spending plan was adopted 125 days late but all of that extra time did nothing to help generate a budget that New Yorkers can be proud of.
For the second year in a row, Albany leaders thumbed their noses at the concept of transparency. In direct violation of the 2007 Budget Reform Law, the governor, and leaders in the assembly and senate huddled behind closed doors to fabricate the $136 billion plan. Instead of convening open, bi-partisan conference committees to negotiate spending in full view of the public, three men from New York City decided they knew best.